Vernon Smith is regarded as one of the strongest coaches in the world. The head strength and conditioning coach at Marian University in Indianapolis can deadlift and squat more than 900 pounds. Now he’s taking on a new challenge as his school opens a new training facility. Athletic Business caught up with him to find out how he picked the right equipment for the job.
Did you have any challenges to overcome as you went about setting up this new facility?
Since Marian is a private school, it’s all about boosters and donations. About three years ago, we had a donation given to us to redo our facilities. It was about $50,000. I went to Matrix and they outfitted me with what I needed. Recently, however, we had a donor donate $14 million to our new [facility] project, and about two and a half years ago, they gave me permission to start outfitting that new facility, and we now have everything ordered. For me being a strength coach, being able to get this funding and be trusted to outfit this facility, it’s been a blessing.
How will the new facility help you and your student-athletes?
There’s 17 hours a day where you have to work with 24 programs. We now have the support to get the job done but before, as a strength program, we were really behind. We were to the point where we had 60 football players in a weight room, we had to break it up. We'd have three sessions just for the football team. I’ve done it with the least amount of equipment, with the least amount of funding, and we didn’t have a strength and conditioning budget. Now, we’re getting pretty much everything we need.
What did you look for when shopping for new equipment?
Right now, we have 24 programs. So we need equipment that is quality and is going to last. With Matrix, that’s what I seem to find. Their products are durable. I know they’re going to last. And their customer service is second to none.
What was your goal when outfitting the new facility?
I’m doing my best to make sure we have enough square footage per athlete, and we have enough room to train efficiently. We want to ensure we have space with everything that we do in that facility, which includes group training and those kinds of things. We’re going from a 2,200-square-foot facility to our new facility which will be 7,000 square feet. So, I’m going from six power racks to 15.
I have to say that Matrix is kind of underrated when it comes down to it. I mean, you have all these companies and for the most part a rack is a rack. But Matrix's customer service, their loyalty, their ability to give me what I need, I feel like other companies can't do that.
That's why I continue to work with Matrix. They let me explore. They let me be able to say, ‘Hey, let’s try this with this rack,’ or, ‘This might be more efficient for my program.’
What motivates you?
The thing that motivates me is that God has given me a power to help others. That's my calling. My thing is to not only make these kids better athletes but better students and better in life. I think that's why I have so much passion for this industry, so much passion to help this individual realize, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a college graduate, first and foremost, and I’m going to be able to support my family beyond what makes me do what I do every day.’
For more information on Matrix Fitness' strength equipment offerings, visit matrixfitness.com.